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‘I Study Pep a Lot’: The Surprising Friendship Between Pep Guardiola and a Rookie NBA Coach

‘I Study Pep a Lot’: The Surprising Friendship Between Pep Guardiola and a Rookie NBA Coach

Pep Guardiola is earning a well-deserved vacation after guiding Manchester City to their fourth successive Premier League title.

It marked his fifth Premier League crown since arriving in England in 2016, making him the second-most decorated manager in the English top division after Sir Alex Ferguson.

Guardiola has only a year remaining on his Manchester City contract and has hinted that he will honour the deal.

But with his players now either in vacation mode or preparing for the Euro 2024/Copa America, the Spaniard is also taking some time away from the beautiful game and looking to spend some quality time with his loved ones.

It appears that Pep might be having a short vacation in the United States of America and in particular in Boston.

That is because the Manchester City boss was recently pictured at the arena of the NBA heavyweights Boston Celtics, where he appears to have travelled to meet with their inspirational coach Joe Mazzulla.

Mazzulla has done an impressive job as a head coach, especially considering that he’s only 35!

Even though he could never be an NBA superstar himself, the 35-year-old climbed the ranks to become the Boston Celtics’ head coach in 2023.

He has already helped them improve upon their finish in the 2022/23 season, when they lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. In the 2023/24 campaign, they’ve done one better by winning the Conference Finals to get into the NBA finals – where they’ll face the Dallas Mavericks.

Before the Celtics’ first game (at home) against the Mavericks, Pep took some time to visit their stadium was seen in deep in conversation with their fellow coach.

While their entire talk wasn’t recorded or anything, it was clear that Guardiola was giving his younger tactician some advice on management as a whole – considering that Pep doesn’t really have much of an idea of managing basketball stars.

Earlier this year during the NBA All-Star Break, Mazzulla travelled to England to visit Guardiola at the Etihad Training Campus. The two even swapped jersey sand Joe was basically there to delve into the mind of Pep, someone whose management style he admires a lot.

Despite spending his entire career as a baskeball coach, the 35-year-old Boston Celtics  gaffer is also really fond of football (or soccer as he says it).

He is a big admirer of how Guardiola makes Manchester City operate and how he’s built a dynasty. In fact, Mazzulla has learnt from Pep’s tactics and the system he’s created at Manchester City and implemented certain elements of it in how he makes the Boston Celtics play too.

The 35-year-old spoke to The Athletic earlier this season about how Pep has inspired him, explaining: “That is what the game of basketball is about, to me, and what counterattacking in soccer is about. So I study a lot of Man City. I study Pep a lot. I think he’s the best coach at any level, in any sport. It’s had a huge influence (on me).”

Mazzulla has also revealed that Guardiola’s Tiki-Taka system, where he made his team employ a fast-pace passing style to ‘tire’ out opponents had a big influence of the Boston Celtics gaffer too. He revealed how by claiming; “That’s where my timeout philosophy started. I think soccer coaches are the best teachers, because once the game starts, you can’t call a timeout. The ability to create a system where your guys can operate and function based on the ebbs and flows of the game and how the game is going is really important. You have to empower your players to understand exactly how the game’s going and how quickly you can self-correct to either stop a run or create your own run.”

Mazzulla has revealed that he often watches Pep Guardiola’s interviews to take points from his management style and had to come face-to-face with the manager to properly clarify his queries with Pep.

He’s proud to learn from the Manchester City gaffer, whom he terms among the greatest in sports history, claiming: “You get an environment of what greatness is like and I’d say they’re pretty close to greatness with what they’ve done over the last nine years and what he’s done at Barcelona. It’s just good to be around that, study that, learn from it.”

Well, the Boston Celtics gaffer will aim to tap into his inner-Pep and inspire his team produce their best performances of the campaign to win the NBA Championship – just like Guardiola inspired Manchester City to reserve their best performances for last to clinch the Premier League title.